|I'll Be Seeing You
Author: Annwyd PM
After the battles are over, Simon learns that there are surprises in store within his heart as well as in the world without. Simon/Nia.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance - Simon & Nia T. - Words: 2,980 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 21 - Follows: 2 - Published: 07-26-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5251492
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The first night after the wedding, it was colder than Simon remembered it being before.
It was funny, he thought as he finished pitching his tent (he knew he could get shelter anywhere he asked for it, but somehow making it with his own hands felt more right). It wasn't like he'd had the chance to grow used to sleeping with her at his side.
But he thought of the one week they'd had together after it was all over, and he remembered Nia's face aglow beneath the shadows of the trees. He said aloud, "It's good that I got to know what it was like, to wake up next to her, isn't it?"
Boota licked his face in agreement.
Simon laid out his blankets, then crouched next to them. He was still uncertain. They'd always been good enough to keep him warm before, but now it was different. But there was no sense in worrying over it; he needed his sleep. He drew the flaps of the tent closed and lay down.
It was still cold.
And yet the gentle light of the stars filtered faintly through the fabric of the tent, and it reminded him of something. Simon closed his eyes, and somewhere within him, another light burned brighter than any star.
He was tired, and he could not quite put a name to it--but it warmed him, and he slept.
A week after the wedding, Simon woke up early from a mess of muddled and unremembered dreams. He'd gotten barely any sleep--something about the dreams had made him fitful and easily startled, as if he didn't dare wake from them, but needed to anyway.
He left his tent and walked out into the morning dew. It wasn't quite light yet, and although the breeze was light, the morning darkness felt heavy. For the first time since the wedding, he felt like getting up and walking forward into the day would be tremendously hard with only his own footsteps to follow.
Kamina would probably hit me for that, he thought, but that didn't bother him as much as it once had. He simply felt alone, for the first time in a very long time.
Simon sat down in the grass, not minding the damp, just wanting to feel the ground. But it wasn't as much of a comfort as it usually was. He didn't want to dig; he wanted Nia.
Above his head, above his hands pressed to the earth, the breeze murmured something. Simon found himself twisting to catch it, but it was nothing, just the wind. He started to look down again, but then something caught his attention.
The air was carrying a new scent to him. No: not a new one. An old one. During the week before the wedding, Nia had brought him a flower, one he'd never seen before. He remembered now; he had put it in her hair, and she had laughed and blushed.
He had never seen that flower anywhere but on that island. But here his nose told him it was again, though he couldn't make out where the scent came from. Unable to resist, he sniffed again, breathing it in--
There. Something else. Something that wasn't the flower. Whatever it was, he felt his heart catch and bounce up into his throat, and suddenly the day ahead seemed bright. He rose to his feet. Caught in the leaves of the trees, he could see the light of the rising sun. He knew it was a good thing.
The sun was almost setting again before he realized what the other scent had been: Nia's hair, just the same as it had smelled when he pulled her to him and buried his face in her curls.
A month after the wedding, Boota returned to the clearing where Simon had set up camp the night before dragging a branch heavy with fruit. He set it down across the pathway and glowered meaningfully at Simon.
"What's wrong?" Simon said. Then he realized: "Damn, I haven't been eating very well, have I?"
Boota shoved the fruit at him.
"Okay!" Simon said. "I'll make a real meal. I'll..."
He stopped. It was true he hadn't eaten a really good meal in a while, but he certainly wasn't trying to starve himself. He just had trouble staying interested in the food he'd been picking up on his way. It wasn't that the food was bad--he was pretty sure everything he'd bought was the very best the store or restaurant had to offer. In fact, he'd had trouble convincing some people not to just give him the food. They thought of him as a hero, after all, no matter how much he'd rather just be Simon.
But something was missing. Simon sighed as he took out his knife and battered spoon, rolled up his sleeves, and set to work getting a fire started and arranging his makeshift cooking equipment. With the flames gathering behind him, he crouched down over the branch full of fruit and studied it.
One of the fruits was a little rotten. No--more than a little. A worm poked out of it, then squirmed hurriedly back inside.
Something tugged at the back of Simon's thoughts; for a moment he thought he saw a glimmer at the edge of his vision. He turned to catch it, and the next thing he knew, his hands were moving on their own, without him even looking at them. They grabbed his knife and the rotten fruit, and they chopped and sliced and tossed the results into the pot, worm and all. Then he stood and made his way to the edge of the clearing, where a cluster of unidentifiable mushrooms grew beneath a crooked tree. Up from the ground they came and into the pot they went, still grimy with dirt.
He was operating on some instinct he'd never known before. But he was okay. He wasn't scared. He trusted this instinct, wherever it came from. It felt right.
He had bought some meat the other day--it looked tough and dry, even a little gritty. It went into the pot as well. "Maybe this other stuff will make it better," he said to a dubious-looking Boota.
Some vegetables he'd dropped in a puddle last week, but felt bad about throwing away because the seller had been so proud of them. They had mold on them now. "It'll add to the taste," he said, and it was strange that he was so sure of himself, because he really hadn't done much cooking until recently.
He mixed and stirred and cooked. It started to smell really good. Boota no longer looked so skeptical; in fact, he looked downright eager. "It's almost done," Simon said, even though he wasn't sure how he knew.
Something popped and splattered inside the pot. "That means it's done," Simon said. He took out his and Boota's bowls and started spooning the stew into them. "It smells great," he said; he hardly needed to, but he felt like he should say something. "Let's eat!"
The two of them sat down in the shade and dug into the stew. It was the best thing he'd eaten in a long time, but somehow, he wasn't surprised. It almost seemed familiar. Simon had a feeling he'd be eating better from now on.
A season after the wedding, enough warmth lingered in the night air that Simon felt comfortable setting down his blankets outside and lying there underneath the stars. He looked up at them, and he thought, Someone else will go to those lights, and soon. It was a nice thought.
He slept, and in his sleep he descended into tangled dreams. They passed in a blur he could not recall, as they always still did, since the night of the wedding. But then something new happened: he started awake, his heart hammering with the certainty that there was someone else at his side.
There was no one there. He twisted about to check, but still no one showed. Even Boota was fast asleep at his feet. Somehow, though, he didn't feel relieved. In fact, he hadn't been scared at all as he awoke. He wasn't sure what he had been--hopeful? Excited? Maybe something else entirely--but it definitely hadn't been scared.
Simon lay back down and closed his eyes, but sleep did not come again. He could feel the light of the stars on the other side of his eyelids, and he felt like he should see it--and something else. He opened his eyes, sure that he would see...what? He didn't know. After all, all he did see were stars.
"Yeah," he said. "They are beautiful, aren't they?"
It was funny. He wasn't sure who he was responding to. But he knew with certainty that someone was listening, and that they wanted to hear what he was saying.
"When I first got to the surface," he said, "I looked at them and wondered if they were the lights in another ceiling, and if that meant I had to break through that ceiling too." He'd never told this to anybody before, but he had mentioned his early days on the surface to Nia sometimes, and he was sure she'd understood. He hadn't wanted to break through another ceiling if he didn't have to. He just wanted to clear the way for anyone who wanted to come past the first one.
Whoever he was talking to now understood, too, and he was more and more sure of who it was. But he dared not speak a name.
Instead, he said, "When I found out that they were other worlds, I was much happier. I knew there would be other people there who could use their Spiral energy and break through to the sky. I thought it might be nice to meet some of them."
He tugged on his blankets to shift position a little, only to realize that now a leafy tree branch blocked much of his view of the stars. He frowned and started to move his blankets back to their previous position, but even as he did so, a breeze kicked up above him and pushed the branch to the side--not enough to hurt the tree, but enough to clear his view.
Simon smiled, and without even thinking about it, he said, "Thanks." Silly, really--it was just the wind. And yet...
For a moment, the flickering wind sounded like laughter, high and joyous, and he thought he could see the glimmering outline of a pale hand reaching up to the stars. No--it was just a trick of the moonlight. But he still didn't feel alone.
"I think..." He hesitated for only a moment. "It would have been nice to take you to one of them, one day. To meet the new people there and see the new places."
Somewhere, there was a reply.
"Yeah," Simon said, and he smiled. "Looking at the stars like this is nice too, Nia."
Only silence answered him, as it had this whole time, but it was enough. He still had a few hours before dawn, so he turned over and let sleep take him. This time, the strange dreams did not trouble him; he only saw starlight.
A year after the wedding, Simon returned to Kamina City for the first time since then. He was relieved to find the outskirts largely empty. It seemed like there was some kind of festival going on in the center of the city. That was okay by him. There were really only a few people here he wanted to see, anyway, and after a long day of walking, he was too tired to spend much energy on staying out of the way of others.
He couldn't see any damage left from the Anti-Spiral attacks, but he hadn't expected to. He knew he'd left the place in capable hands. In fact, it looked better than before--the houses were bigger, and more colorful flowers adorned the lawns. Even as he ventured further into the city, and the buildings grew bigger and closer together, they still looked like nice places to live.
He caught sight of movement out of the corner of his eye, and he turned, expecting--something he wasn't sure of. But it was only a kid in jeans and a grubby T-shirt, busily spraypainting a wall in a small alley. Simon approached, curious, gambling that the cloak he'd taken to wearing and the year of obscurity would prevent the girl from recognizing him.
She put a last flourish on the final word of her message, then turned, only to freeze at the sight of him. "I didn't--I wasn't--"
He saw no recognition in her eyes. She just saw another adult, ready to chastise her. Simon grinned. "Don't worry," he said. "I won't give you any crap, kid. I think it looks better this way."
She blinked once, then beamed, hooked her can of spraypaint back onto her belt, and jutted her chin out proudly. "Yeah? That's right. I'm an artist."
"Go paint some more walls," Simon said. "I won't tell anybody."
She gave him a thumbs-up, then dashed across the street and started for the next alley. Simon watched her until she disappeared around a corner, and then he lowered himself onto a step. He was tired, and after how far he'd come, he felt he could take a rest.
He liked the girl's design, too. In big, colorful letters, the wall now read, JUST BECAUSE YOU STOPPED DOESN'T MEAN THE SPIRAL DID!
Simon leaned back; there was just enough moss on the wall behind him to make it soft enough. That was nice; he wondered if someone had planned it that way. He'd tell Rossiu to compliment them on their design, if they had. For now, he closed his eyes for a moment.
When he opened them, the light was different--had he fallen asleep? It was night now, and the stars and moon gleamed like beacons in the dark sky above him. But the writing on the wall in front of him was still perfectly clear.
It was different now, though. The colors were pink and blue, and the letters were round and flowery. They read, WELCOME TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SPIRAL.
There was no one else here. He stood up, rubbing his eyes, and then he blinked. A door had appeared in the wall, round and inviting beneath the new writing. Simon looked around for Boota, hoping to get his opinion on what to do, but couldn't find him. He couldn't muster much worry, though. He was sure Boota was fine.
He opened the door, and light flooded through. He stepped into it.
Then he stumbled. The solid ground beneath his feet had suddenly turned to sand. Where was he? Where--
Someone caught him, with arms around his waist, and as he swayed and regained his balance, he caught sight of bright flowers and leafy trees and glimmering water. It was the island where he'd spent his last week with Nia.
No. Not his last, not his last at all.
"Nia," he said, and the only thing that surprised him was that there was no surprise in his voice. "I'm glad you caught me! I wasn't expecting this place...I would have fallen otherwise."
She smiled at him, eyes shining. "But it would have been all right if you had fallen, Simon." She laughed. "I would have been here to help you up!"
"Nia," he said again, enjoying the feel of her name in his mouth once more. "Where is this place?"
She peered up at him, bemused, then leaned around to look where he'd come from. "It said on the way in. You're on the other side of the spiral. That's your heart, Simon, your heart instead of your hands. Although..." Her smile was more tentative now. "I like them both very much. Your heart and your hands." She lifted her arms from his waist and laced her fingers with his.
He understood, then, now that she was the one telling him. "My dreams," he said. "I'm dreaming. Are you..." He hesitated. "Are you really Nia?"
She pulled one hand away from him, reluctantly, only to touch it to his face. "Are you really Simon?"
"Yeah," he said. "You know that."
"Mmm...I do. And that means I'm really Nia."
He didn't ask how. He only said, "I'm sorry it took me this long to get here."
"It's okay," she said. "People are confusing sometimes, so dreams are too. Besides, I was here all along, so you must have been too."
"You're right," he said. "Nia...you were here. But I couldn't do this until now." He leaned down to kiss her--
--their lips brushed--
--and he opened his eyes.
It was light out; he'd slept only a few minutes, but he felt rested all the same. He stood up.
Boota peeked out of his cloak at him and made a quizzical noise.
"No, I'm fine," Simon said. "I'll tell you later. I was...right here. And now I'm ready to go."
The city and the world beyond it still awaited him. He walked out of the alleyway and into the light beyond it.